This week I am going to focus primarily on the financial side of Gatecrash. If you're looking to turn a profit off the new cards, the advice offered today is aimed at helping you to accomplish exactly that. If on the other hand you're only concerned with strategy advice, then I have you covered in that regard as well. I have made sure to focus most of my discussion on card applications so that for those not interested in the financial side of things, this article will serve as a de facto set review that focuses mostly on rares and mythics. Typically cards of these rarities tend to be the dominant staples in Constructed formats. Therefore much of what I have to say today is applicable not only to the investor but also to the tournament player.
For most of my past Financial Predictions articles my projected future price point was at 3 months. This time I am going to do things a bit differently. The ‘projected price' for this review refers to one of two things, depending on the direction of price projection: (1) the eventual settling point of the card's price [for cards whose price is predicted to drop], or (2) the price peak [for cards whose price is expected to rise], which could refer to any time within the next three months. I find this metric to be more useful for speculation because it is better able to capture all good and bad investments, including those that rise for a time and then drop. It is recommended that you sell a card when it reaches its projected peak price (which in the case of projected drops is now) and to buy it now if its price is projected to rise (and to subsequently sell it when it reaches its projected peak).
With speculation comes risk. I have never been correct about everything in my financial reviews, though I have on the whole given profitable investment advice each time. I hit an immediate homerun with Miracles for Avacyn Restored, and my sleeper picks for Dark Ascension were likewise dead-on, including Falkenrath Aristocrat which took a while to finally wake up, but turned a heavy profit once it finally did. I tend to be better at picking sleepers than I am at identifying which high dollar cards will retain their value, though my past advice has been overall profitable in both areas. This should give you the confidence to go ahead and invest in a card if we both believe it to be a good investment. The likelihood of us both being wrong is lower than that of just one of us being wrong, and my advice alone has proved profitable in the past.
Therefore I recommend that you read my reasoning for each card and invest in the ones you agree with most while not investing in the ones you disagree with. I also recommend diversifying your investments – investing in multiple cards rather than in just one. This helps to mitigate some of the risks involved in speculation. Lastly, just because I predict a card will decrease in value does not necessarily mean you should avoid buying it. The enjoyment of playing with the card can in many ways make up for any decrease in monetary value, especially once you factor in any prizes you may win as a result of having the card in your deck. And there is also the possibility that you know something about a card that I don't. In any case, let's get to it!
The initial hype on this card seems ambitious. When I first saw it I thought it looked really good because of its versatility. Finding a home for it, however, proved to be difficult. I suspect it will largely not out-compete Sphinx's Revelation for the large spell spot, nor will it prove good enough in aggressive decks. I expect it to be a playable mythic, but nowhere near as popular as the high dollar mythics in Standard. I would wait on this one for a month or so, and by then you might not even want it for half the current price.
At various times in the past, people looked back and said, “Of course this is a high dollar Mythic, just look at what the card does!” What people fail to acknowledge in many of such cases is that initially the card's power wasn't so obvious. For example, consider Hellrider's initial $.50 price (which at the time, I referred to it as ‘one hell of a pickup'). The devil is now worth $9.00 and heavily played. I suspect Aurelia will find a home in Naya Midrange, serving the role of finisher behind Thundermaw Hellkite and a bunch of mana accelerants. She will likely find a place in other decks as well, possibly including UWR Midrange. She is as powerful as Primeval Titan, though a bit more restricted in her applications. Hence I'm estimating $20, though I would not be surprised if she pulls $25 at some point.
He is very powerful and 7/6 trample is not bad for eight mana when we consider his two abilities. He is also a legend which could increase his price due to Commander appeal. I do not Foresee him seeing much play in Standard though. Cratehoof Behemoth and Angel of Serenity are more powerful and fill the same type of role. I see no good reason to invest in this Cyclops, though if you see something I don't, he may be a card to keep an eye on.
An interesting card, but I don't see her being a major staple in any format. Like Angel of Despair, her trigger can be missed. Unlike Angel of Despair, she does not Vindicate. Too slow without enough upside, though moderately resilient to some removal spells… in an agonizingly slow and fragile kind of way.
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Current Price: $17
Projected Price: $30
This is my pick for best mythic rare of the set. People are comparing Duskmantle Seer to Dark Confidant for their similar wordings, but the Seer works for both players, making it very different from Bob. Domri Rade, on the other hand, is one-sided and can draw a card approximately every other turn in decks built to support it. And Gruul (or Naya, Jund, or RUG) is the perfect color combination to support a creature-based deck. If you look hard enough, there is almost always a creature to solve any problem. Even the bloodrush mechanic works with Domri, allowing you to draw ‘spells' off the Planeswalker.
When I see this card, I see Liliana of the Veil. Imagine cascading into this off of Bloodbraid Elf, only to +1 it to find yet another Bloodbraid Elf! I would not even be surprised to see Domri show up in Legacy where setting up the top card of your library is much easier, though likely the majority of its play will be in Standard. It even seems pretty sweet in Commander where setting up the ultimate would be a thing that happens not infrequently. It is card draw, removal, and a way to win the long game with its ultimate. All of its abilities also work well together, making it a powerful and complete card.
Fellow Ten Packs co-Author Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa recently discussed Duskmantle Seer at length. Despite Paulo claiming to be part of the Azorius guild, he gravitates toward Dimir decks and always wants them to be good (see Faeries). He concluded his analysis of the card by saying it is a good card but that he could not even guarantee that the card will be played at all. This makes me hesitant to invest at the current price of $16. It's rare that more than two or three of a set's mythics hold a $15+ tag, so when a strong player who wants Dimir to be good is not even willing to risk saying the card will be played, that's enough for me to stay clear of it. Unlike with Dark Confidant, Duskmantle Seer's greatness does have a cost, and $16 is a bit too steep for me to recommend it. I am, however, willing to go out on a limb and claim it will see some amount of play. Hence the $8 projection, though even this might be ambitious.
Enter the Infinite? More like enter the garbage, because that's exactly where I predict this one to end up. There is certainly something to be said for drawing your entire library though. With Omniscience in play, this would easily make for an immediate win condition. Without Omniscience (or Dream Halls), getting to twelve mana just seems unrealistic. Maybe in conjunction with Crypt Ghast and some Watery Graves this could be a thing, though I highly doubt it. Unfortunately Urza Tron also does not help us much since turning colorless mana into quadruple blue is a task in itself. The $2 price is certainly low enough if you find a way to break the card (in any format) and it wouldn't take much demand to turn a profit off a $2 mythic, but I'm skeptical that even this small amount of demand will happen anytime soon.
Trample makes self-replication a very likely occurrence for this insect since it only needs to get one point of damage through to copy itself. In conjunction with double strike, this could get out of control pretty quickly. With that said, giving your seven drop double strike or connecting with it multiple times should be enough to win the game anyway. Hence this bug is repellent to my investor senses.
Rumor has it that defender is a creature type that is going to be pushed in upcoming sets, which could make for a price spike for Gideon if that turns out true. Otherwise I see Gideon showing up here and there but not making nearly the splash that I expect Domri Rade to make. It would be a bit embarrassing for me of all people to miss this one, but my prediction is that Gideon drops in value. I over-valued Ajani, Caller of the Pride and I don't want to make that same mistake with Gideon.
The effect is powerful in formats where equipment is prevalent, but that is not current Standard where all you really see is the occasional Runechanter's Pike. Some fun flavor, but I doubt it will ever see any play, nor pull any real demand. Even the dragon tribe is not what it used to be, ever since Planeswalkers became the hot thing to collect instead.
In a deck with lots of black removal spells for opposing creatures, Lazav could be a legitimate threat. Hexproof has proven to be a tournament worthy mechanic, even on a lowly 1/1 ghost with an affinity for hats and pants. I do not Foresee this one being a big hit, but I expect it to see a marginal amount of tournament play in addition to a healthy amount of Commander appeal. I would be surprised if it goes to $10, but all it would take for that to happen would be a competitive strategy in Standard that runs 3-4 copies of Lazav. It's asking a bit more than I think will happen, but if you believe otherwise, those are the requisites for such an investment to turn a profit.
This is basically the black version of Giant Adephage. If you connect with your seven-drop, you're likely winning the game without the needed assistance of another creature. With all the shock lands, I would be surprised if any black deck that could support this card would not rather play Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker or Griselbrand. On that same note, investing in Liliana of the Dark Realm or Mutilate could prove profitable now that Watery Grave and Godless Shrine are in Standard.
Most of the cards in this set I have a clear opinion on, but this one I admittedly am not sure about. On the one hand it seems very good with Elves, especially while holding a Rancor. On the other hand, is that enough to be a real thing in Standard? Or in any other format for that matter? Not being a legend helps it more than it hurts it since that makes it a better build-around card for constructed formats and allows for multiple triggers to stack. My intuition is that this will be a real thing and will be a 4x in a competitive deck, at which point the price could go as high as $25. I have no good reason to believe this and have not seen any deck that would incline me to believe this to be true, but that is my gut intuition when I look at the card.
On the other hand, if a 2/4 for four mana with no immediate payoff is not enough (and traditionally those stats have not been enough), I could see this going as low as $5. So if you want to gamble hard on a high variance pick, this one might be the card for you. This is the most attractive Simic card I've seen, and it seems to fit the flavor of the guild very well. If you agree and want to pull the trigger, then go nuts. Otherwise stay away, but be willing to look back on this one as a potential missed opportunity (like I did on Huntmaster of the Fells).
I see this one as the Molten-Tail Masticore of the set. It's a powerful mythic creature that looks good at first glance, and it would seem to fit into a variety of different strategies. It's even resilient to sorcery speed removal and gets in incidental damage via its ETB trigger. I suspect, though, that it won't take long before people turn away from this flashy new five-drop and back to their Thragtusks, Thundermaw Hellkites, Zealous Conscripts, and Sigarda, Host of Herons. If you're planning on attacking, Thundermaw seems way better. If you're planning on blocking, Thragtusk is way better. If you're planning on dodging removal, Sigarda seems (usually) better. I just don't see this guy performing to expectations. If he started out as a $4 mythic I might have a different opinion, but at $22 I see this as a hot potato that I would much sooner get rid of and pick back up later for a fraction of the cost, assuming I even want what this guy has to offer. Then again, take this advice with a grain of salt. I'm admittedly not the best judge of cards with double black in their mana cost.
I don't expect the bottom to fall out on this one quite as quickly as some of the more inflated mythics, though I also do not expect it to rise in value. It may hit $15 before the gradual decline kicks in, but as far as long-term potential is concerned, I see more reasons not to invest than I do to invest. First off, I see this as only the second best Simic mythic in the set, behind Master Biomancer. Will they fit into the same deck? Likely, yes. The difference is that I see Biomancer as being an indispensible centerpiece for the Simic strategy and will require four copies in order to compete. The Prime Speaker, on the other hand, will be maybe a two-of and potentially even a zero-of if Garruk, Primal Hunter proves better in the deck. In addition to Thragtusk and Garruk, there is likely only so much room for more big drops, and so my thinking is that this one will be the lesser of the two to invest in. In a Quick Question at Grand Prix Atlantic City, Zvi Mowshowitz recently said this was the one card from Gatecrash he is most excited about. Zvi tends to be more acquainted with the Simic guild than I am, so if you're confident that Prime Speaker Zegana is the way to go, I wouldn't try too hard to dissuade you from investing in her. Patrick Chapin also speaks highly of her, so there is that too.
These five rares are in large part going to dictate the values of the other cards in the set. Much like with Return to Ravnica, I expect there to be only a handful of mythics that will be worth more than $10 in a few months and no more than one rare besides the shock lands. For RtR that one rare was Deathrite Shaman (which I might add, I picked as a sleeper). I do not Foresee there being a Deathrite Shaman, Snapcaster Mage, or Cavern of Souls in this set, though it's possible a card aimed at the casual market may fill this role and has thus escaped my attention. I expect each of the shock lands to retain an approximate $10 value for most of their lifetime in Standard, and likely even beyond. They currently pull a slight premium while players scramble to acquire them, but much like with their RtR counterparts, I expect them to retain most of their value since they will unquestionably be format staples throughout their entire Standard life. If you play Standard, they will be well worth the investment.
Champion of the Parish is hovering around $5 right now and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is at $6. I see Frontline Medic as a card that will see less demand than either of these other cards, though not by a large margin. I plan to acquire four of these for my own personal use, but I do not plan to invest further in them. This is coming from a person who invested heavily in Stoneforge Mystic when it was three dollars. This is not Stoneforge Mystic, but it will see a healthy amount of play and I will be happy having it in many of my decks in the future.
This could prove to be the Tangle Wire of the set. It started out innocuous and unimpressive. Then people started talking about it and the price has climbed a bit. I think once people start playing with it and seeing its utility, the price will continue to climb. I can't say for certain how high it will climb before it starts its downward descent, but delayed hype alone could prove this card to be a profitable investment. Much like with Daybreak Ranger, the card doesn't actually have to be good or see any significant amount of play to rise in value and turn a profit. Hype and expectation is sufficient. And aside from the upside generated by pure hype, there is also the possibility that the card plays an important role in a Tier 1 strategy. This is what would be required for it to be the Deathrite Shaman of the set. My intuition is that it will not be, but it would be on my short list of candidates to choose from if I were forced to pick a sleeper rare. Whether a Tangle Wire or a Daybreak Ranger, investing in Blind Obedience could turn a profit. Just be sure to sell out before the decline ensues. I don't Foresee sustained long term value on this one.
If I were told to invest $100 in a single card from Gatecrash, I would invest in 100 Boros Charms without Hesitation. Currently able to be purchased for less than a dollar, I would be very surprised if the Charm doesn't make it all the way to $3. Even if it sees only an average amount of play in Standard, its appeal in older formats will almost certainly drive the price well above the dollar mark. Do you know how much Lava Spike sells for? $2.50. What about Flame Rift? That one's $1. The difference is that both of these are commons while Boros Charm is uncommon. Want to hear something else interesting about these efficient burn spells that cannot hit creatures? The foil versions of each cannot be acquired for less than $15. If you can find foil versions of Boros Charm for under $10 I'd recommend picking them up because I expect them to easily pull $15.
Recap and Sample Investment Portfolio
To recap, these are the cards I would invest in from Gatecrash:
Current Price: $17
Projected Price: $30 [pick for chase mythic of the set]
One last point I'd like to remind people of is the release of Ten Packs last week. It's a Draft Strategy Guide co-authored by Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Luis Scott-Vargas, Brian Kibler, and myself. If you've ever wanted to step up your limited game, this eBook is an interactive series of exercises designed to help you take your game to the next level. And if you're worried about the $7.99 cost, it should more than pay for itself in increased prize winnings in your future drafts. And if you're still concerned, then just invest in a play set of Boros Charms alongside it and consider it free.
@Nacatls4Life on twitter
Co Author of Ten Packs
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